State Watch

New York governor signs bill decriminalizing marijuana use

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday signed a bill decriminalizing the use of marijuana in the state and expunge the records of some people convicted on cannabis-related charges.

“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,”  Cuomo said in a statement.

{mosads}”By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”

The new bill, approved by New York’s state legislature earlier this year, will reduce unlawful marijuana possession to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

Possession under two ounces will not be met with criminal penalties.

It also establishes a process for individuals with certain marijuana convictions to have their records cleared both retroactively and for future convictions, a major sticking point for criminal justice reform advocates.

The bill will take effect 30 days after becoming law.

Cuomo previously proposed decriminalizing marijuana in 2013.

The bill signing Monday follows a recent wave of legislation legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana at the state level.

Hawaii became the 26th state to legalize or decriminalize the drug earlier this month.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) earlier this month introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge previous convictions nationally.

The plan to legalize the drug in New York faced a hurdle earlier this year when Cuomo announced he was dropping the plan from the state’s upcoming budget, arguing state lawmakers needed more time to reach an agreement.

Updated at 11:11 a.m.

Tags drug laws Jerrold Nadler legalization Marijuana New York

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